Posted in Advanced C1, Grammar Classes, Proficiency

Halloween Horror Story: C1/C2 Inversions

This is a spooky grammar lesson for Halloween. Students listen to the first part of a horror story in the form of a dictogloss, then continue the story using inversions. Download the handout and teacher’s notes below:

Horror Story Dictogloss – Teacher’s Notes

Pre-Listening

Tell students you’re going to read them the introduction to a horror story. It features a haunted mansion and the first line is “It was a dark and stormy night…” Tell them to make predictions about what will happen.

Dictogloss

Explain the dictogloss to your students:

You will read the story to them several times. A note on delivery, read the text in a natural way, don’t pause mid-sentence, follow the punctuation. You may want to exaggerate the pauses after full stops and commas to give students a bit of extra processing time.

  1. The first time all they have to do is listen.
  2. Second time they can take notes of words and phrases, stress that it’s not a dictation and that they shouldn’t worry if their version is different.
  3. Students compare notes with a partner or in a three.
  4. Students listen for a third time, taking notes and then compare with their group again. You may want to read the text for a fourth time, gauge it with your own group.
  5. Students work to recreate the text. You could do this on a Google doc so you can see the versions taking shape. Assign each group a page of the doc so that they’re not tempted to copy each other.
  6. Show them the original text and copy/paste all their versions below. Have them compare their versions and looks for differences.

It was a dark and stormy night, the wind was whistling through the trees and the rain was pouring down. Not only was I completely soaking wet, but also my teeth were chattering because of the icy wind. I knocked on the door of the ancient run-down mansion as hard as I could; little did I know the horror that awaited me on the other side of the door. No sooner had I ceased my knocking than the door swung slowly open. The darkness on the other side was pitch-black but so desperate was I to get out of the storm that I jumped inside without a second thought. Hardly had I set foot inside the house when the door slammed shut behind me…

Language Focus

Ask students to complete the following language analysis task in pairs:

  • Meaning – substitute the phrases in bold for other, simpler words so that the meaning is the same.
  • Usage – why do you think the writer decided to use the phrases in bold instead of simpler language? What effect do these expressions have on the reader? More emphatic, more exciting, draws the reader in.
  • Form – Look at the word order after the inversion phrases:
    • Not only…
    • Little…
    • No sooner
    • So desperate…
    • Hardly…
  • Complete the formula: Inversion phrase + _______ + _______ + _______

(Inversion phrase + auxiliary verb + subject + verb)

Show students further examples of each inversion:

Not only: used with a wide range of tenses and auxiliary verbs:

  • Not only are vampires afraid of crosses, but also garlic.
  • Not only did the werewolf have sharp teeth, but also long claws.
  • Not only would I recommend calling the police, but also I would run away as fast as I could.

Little: most commonly used with “know” and “realise”:

  • Little did I realise how much danger I was in.
  • Little did she know what had just happened in the other room.

No sooner…. than: Or Hardly…. when Most commonly used with past perfect to express that one action happened immediately after another:

  • No sooner had I closed the door than I heard a strange scratching sound.
  • No sooner had I fallen asleep than a strange light came in through the window.
  • Hardly had the sound stopped when the door burst open.
  • Hardly had I turned around when the beast appeared at the end of the corridor.

So + adjective + that…: Used with a range of adjectives to add emphasis and express consequences:

  • So cold was it that my hands were shaking.
  • So frightening was the beast that even the brave soldier screamed in fear.

Practice – Key

  1. I had just opened the door when the monster appeared.

HAD

Hardly had I opened the door when the monster appeared.

  • They had no idea that the beast was watching their every move.

REALISE

Little did they realise (that) the beast was watching their every move.

  • The enormous size of the beast’s tentacles stopped them from reaching the exit.

WERE

So enormous were the beast’s tentacles that they couldn’t reach the exit.

  • As soon as they were outside the house, she called the police.

HAD

No sooner had they got out of the house than she called the police.

  • The car wouldn’t start and the gun was jammed.

WOULD

Not only would the car not start but also the gun was jammed.

  • They didn’t know that the call was coming from inside the house until it was too late.

THAT

Little did they know/realise that the call was coming from inside the house until it was too late.

Production

Have students write another paragraph of the story either in class or for homework. Encourage them to use as many inversions as possible and other descriptive language.

Posted in Grammar Classes

Narrative Tenses: Where were you when…?

Image result for michael jackson dancing

Image credit: www.biography.com

This is a lesson plan designed to help students practice past narrative tenses. The topic is remembering where you were when big events happened. Download the teacher’s notes and student handout below:

Where were you when student handout

Where were you when Teachers notes

Lead-in

Show image of MJ. Sts in pairs: Where were you when you heard that Michael Jackson had died? T makes note of language sts use: use of narrative tenses, errors etc.

Dictogloss

Procedure:

  1. Ask sts: How did Michael Jackson die? (aim: to preteach “take an overdose”)
  2. Tell sts you are going to tell them someone’s story of them finding out MJ had died. Tell them that after you’ve finished you want them to make a note of key words or phrases from the story. While you are reading they should just focus on listening and not write anything.
  3. Read the text at a normal speed pausing at punctuation in a natural way.
  4. Give sts 30 secs to write down key words, then compare and share with a partner.
  5. Tell sts that you’re going to read the text again and you want them to write down any more key words and phrases they hear.
  6. Now instruct sts to try to recreate the text in pairs, tell them not to worry if their version is different.

I was at a festival when I heard that Michael Jackson had died. It was about 3 in the morning and we were sitting in one of the big tents listening to music, drinking and chatting. Suddenly we overheard a guy sitting next to us saying that Michael Jackson had taken an overdose and had died. We thought it couldn’t possibly be true and carried on as before, but then the DJ played Beat it by Michael Jackson, then Billy Jean and then more and more of his songs, we all looked at each other, everyone in the tent realised that it must be true and we all stood up and danced.

Guided Questions:

  1. There are three different past tenses in the text, can you identify them?
  2. Which tense do we use to give a description of a scenario or scene at a specific time?
  3. Which tense do we use to say that an action happened before another action?
  4. Which tense do we use to describe short actions often in sequence?
  5. How do we form the past continuous? Subject + __________ + ___________
  6. How do we form the past perfect? Subject + __________ + ___________
  7. This is a contracted sentence: “Michael Jackson’d taken an overdose.” What is the complete version?

 

  1. Project/hand out the original text and ask sts to compare their version to it. They MUSTN’T CHANGE their version but just make a note of the differences.
  2. In open class go over some of the differences, do their versions still make sense? Are their versions grammatically correct?
  3. Have sts complete the guided questions. Clear up any doubts in open class.
  4. Give out the gapped text about 9/11 and have sts complete it in pairs.
  5. Check their answers using the complete text.

The Day the Towers Came Down.

I was at school when I ______(hear) that terrorists __________(attack) the World Trade Centre. I _________ (stand) outside the school gates ________ (wait) for the school bus and ________(chat) to my friends when suddenly one of the teachers __________(run) out of the school and ________(tell) us that something terrible ____________(happen) in New York. Two planes _________(crash) into the twin towers in New York, when I _________(get) home I __________(watch) the towers collapse on the news with my parents. I’ll never forget where I was that day.

I was at school when I heard that terrorists had attacked the World Trade Centre. I was standing outside the school gates waiting for the school bus and chatting to my friends when suddenly one of the teachers ran out of the school and told us that something terrible had happened/was happening in New York. Two planes had crashed into the twin towers in New York, when I got home I watched the towers collapse on the news with my parents. I’ll never forget where I was that day.

  1. Show sts the pictures of important world events, have them choose one and write a short text about what they were doing when they heard about the news.
  2. Have sts read out their texts and share their own experiences in open class.